A Good Friday Message

GN: THE GOOD FRIDAY MESSAGE : IT IS FINISHED

This message gets a bit ‘technical’, at times,   but bear with me as it’s important.

What is finished? The Salvation story! What’s the Salvation story. That all have sinned. All, every single one of us on earth; and fallen short of the glory of God.

And the wages Sin is death, but the gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus.

Christianity 101. Right! Start the verse and almost all Jamaicans can finish it.

So, when Jesus said on the Cross, one of ‘Seven Words’,  which feature during the traditional Three Hour Service on Good Friday,  ” It is finished “, it means as we say in Jamaica, ‘ de something dun’. His shed Blood has bought Salvation, Peace with God,  for all mankind.

So as the Bible says, ‘ there is now no more condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus’. For God’s righteousness wrath against all who have sinned, has been ‘ satisfied’ by the ‘ precious blood of the Lamb’.

So here’s the thing now, as young people like to say, if it is finished, why when I went to an inner city to work on behalf on my church, this week,  I was  moved to tweet:

26 years. Dead. 16. Dead. 16. In lockup. Police all over the place  #LifeintheInnercity. Lord have mercy #HolyWeek2016

If it is finished why the headlines:

National mourning in Belgium following deadly #BrusselsAttacks

https://t.co/0Dz4GW5v1y https://t.co/VCyp6vypyL

Or this one:

Stewardess with 60 lbs. of cocaine in carry-on bags at LAX, dumps her Gucci shoes and runs https://t.co/cPU7agATnG https://t.co/QJNdhzvbKz

If it is really finished why are  so many wives silently crying night after night because of  unfaithful husbands or partners? Why is pornography the #1 site that people use Google to search for? And why is there so much poverty and injustice in the world today?

Last night I found an answer, one among many,  in a book that I have been reading on Good Friday. For years! And I am not yet finished. The Cross of Christ, by an Evangelical Anglican Theologian – the late Rev. John Stott.

It’s all about Sin, and something called    ‘ mens rea’ – having the state of mind  and will to commit a particular crime.
That is, mankind has a moral responsibility  and capacity to choose to be obedient to God or not.
And many have elected to reject Salvation. A problem for mankind which began even on the Cross, and during the Jesus’ trial before Pilate.
And the reason for the grief and pain all over the world ever since mankind from the Fall, through Adam, chose Independence over dependence on God.

So,  as was pointed out during the Seven Words during the Three Hour Service today on #GoodFriday,  there were ‘ two elections’, and twice they voted against Jesus. With dire consequences! In the same way many vote, with their feet – not going to church – and with their hearts, going to a dance rather than serving the Lord, in today’s world.

So first  was a vote between Barabbas, a bandit,  and Jesus. And history records well who won!
Then two evil men were crucified beside Jesus. One voted for ‘ Salvation’!  Remember me when you come into your kingdom!  The other for what the world had to offer then and now. Anything else, anybody else but  Jesus. ‘ Don’t you fear God!

No wonder the songwriter was moved to pen these words; the fourth verse of My Song is love unknown:

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of Life they slay
Yet cheerful he
To suffering goes,
That he his foes
From thence might free

Which leads me back to John Stott’s The Cross of Christ and a chapter entitled, ‘ the problem of forgiveness. In which, inter alia, among other things, the issue of why did Jesus have to die for God to forgive mankind, is explored?
And one of the things Stott explains,  is that not only does the world does  not have much interest in the concept of Sin anymore, but most of us don’t understand the ‘ gravity of sin’.  And hence the need for the shedding of Christ’s Blood.

In this context Stott discusses the five   Greek words the New Testament writers use to describe Sin.

Hamartia  – missing the target,  failing to attain a goal. The most common of the five words.

Adika – unrighteousness or iniquity

Poneria – evil of a vicious or degenerate kind

Parabasis – stepping over a known boundary

Anomia – disregard or violation of a known law.

Taking all of these  things together, Stott argues that, ultimately, the lesson from Scripture is that :

” Every Sin is a breach of what Jesus calls the first and great commandment, not just by failing to love God with all our  being, but by  refusing to acknowledge and obey him as Creator and Lord. We have rejected the position of dependence which our createdness inevitably involves, and made a big for Independence…… Sin is not a regrettable lapse  from conventional standards; it’s essence is hostility to God ( ROM. 8:7) issuing in active rebellion against him.

For me all of this points to the greatest of all human failings, and to a meditation that I have been reflecting on for years.

The Problem of Self-Love

Verse: Leviticus 19:18
Francois Fenelon

Self-love must be uprooted and the love of God take it’s place in our hearts before we can see ourselves as we are…….

It is a sensitive self-love that cannot forgive the self-love of others. The more self-love we have the more severe  our censures (  #DonaldTrumpIllegalMigrantsareRapists….and many other politicians all over the world, including #Jamaicalandwelove…. my words).

There is nothing so vexatious  as the as the collisions between one excessive self-love and another still more violent and sensitive ( I imagine this is very much at play in some homes where there is frequent strife)
The passions of others are infinitely ridiculous to those who are under the dominion of their own.

The ways of  God are very different. He is ever full of kindness for us, he gives us strength, he regards us with pity and  condescension, he remembers our weakness, he waits for us. The less we love ourselves, the more considerate  we are of others. We wait for his providence to give the occasion, and grace to open their hearts to receive it. If you would gather the  fruit before its time, you lose it entirely.

Final Comment:   So,  yes it is finished.  But before Salvation can reign completely on Earth, viz, all men accept Jesus as Lord and. Saviour, and therefore love ‘ each other’ as Christ loved us, ‘ even on to death on a Cross, we have to solve the problem of self-love. And a bid for Independence. A bid to ‘ reach God without the need for a mediator’. A bid to be righteous without the Blood of Christ.

For that’s the reason why evil, Sin, will manifest itself in the ‘ chopping off of people’s heads, at one level! Opting, and in effect,  voting for,  Destra, Popcaan, and Rihanna over Jesus at another level. And why Muslims, the Jews,  and other Religions, as was the case with the Gnostics, shortly after Jesus died, refuse to accept Jesus as God. And worse,  claim as some Atheists do, with equally dire circumstances, that God is dead.
And why I see no value in any other prayer,  but that based on The Atonement, in private or public spaces in this country which celebrates Good Friday as a holy-day

So, the Salvation story is  like,  ‘ all done’. But we have to claim it personally, and with obedience, comes the promised Holy Spirit. To lead us into all Truth. Who is a Person. Even Jesus Christ the Crucified One.
Only in that context then,  can we celebrate Easter. The final stop in the journey of Lent.

I leave you with a song my Rector sang twice, so far this weekend:

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain
Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain
This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Refrain

Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Refrain

Peace.

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